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Houston ISD considering $17 million increase in special education spending

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Houston ISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan is asking the district’s school board Thursday to authorize $17 million in additional spending for special education, a request that comes a week after her administration dismissed a state investigation sharply critical of HISD’s support of students with disabilities.



a woman wearing a hat talking on a cell phone: HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan, pictured in September, is asking district trustees Thursday to approve an additional $17 million in spending on special education. The request comes one week after state investigators sharply criticized HISD’s support of students with disabilities, though Lathan’s administration labeled the findings “factually and legally incorrect.”


© Elizabeth Conley, Houston Chronicle / Staff Photographer

HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan, pictured in September, is asking district trustees Thursday to approve an additional $17 million in spending on special education. The request comes one week after state investigators sharply criticized HISD’s support of students with disabilities, though Lathan’s administration labeled the findings “factually and legally incorrect.”


HISD administrators said they plan to use the money to hire more speech language pathologists, mental health specialists, occupational and physical therapists, and assistive technology specialists, among others.

District officials have offered scant details on the request, other than listing the job titles in a press release. HISD administrators did not respond to questions Wednesday about the proposal, including how many employees would be hired and why they are needed.

HISD administrators listed the $17 million request as a line item in a budget document posted last week, but they offered no explanation of the request. Board members did not ask about the request during a public meeting last week, when trustees have the opportunity to question administrators about spending requests, though inquiries could arise during Thursday’s meeting.

“There are always questions when we’re spending large amounts of money, especially in a year when we’re now dipping into our savings to spend this money,” Trustee Judith Cruz said. “We want to make sure there’s transparency and efficacy in how these dollars are spent.”

HISD administrators typically do not ask for money to hire large numbers of new staff in the fall. Those requests often are made